DON RIGSBY & MIDNIGHT CALL, “The Voice of God,” Rebel. 14 tracks.

Expect Don Rigsby’s “The Voice of God” to show up on quite a few Ten Best lists this year in both gospel and bluegrass.

And in just plain great albums.

Too many bluegrass gospel albums fail to challenge listeners.

They stick with the tried and true songs and sounds.

But Rigsby presents story songs that make you think about the message.

Like Skip Ewing’s “The Gospel According to Luke,” a 1989 country hit about an alcoholic street preacher who carries his Bible in a Crown Royal bag.

Like Dixie & Tom T. Hall’s “Then Y’Ain’t,” which says that self-righteousness “ain’t nothin’ to be proud of” and if “you have to tell your neighbor that you’re righteous and holy, then y’aint.”

Like Paul Craft’s “Charged With Being A Christian,” a song about a dream where the singer is charged with being a Christian and released because there’s not enough evidence.

Or Bobby Cyrus’ “Send Me Wings So I Can Fly,” the prayer of a neglected and unloved child who longs to die and go to heaven.

But the album’s highlight is “Harmonica” Phil Wiggins’ “Forgiveness,” a powerful blending of bluegrass and blues in a duet with blues singer and slide guitarist Rory Block about cocaine, whiskey and salvation.
It definitely should be a candidate for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s recorded event of the year for 2010.

Clyde Marshall, Robert Maynard and Dale Vanderpool contribute strong harmonies throughout the album. And Beth Castle shines in a duet on Alan Johnston’s “Mary Magdalene.”

At 42, Rigsby is just coming into his own as a solo artist.

He started his career in 1988 in the Charlie Sizemore Band, moved to the Vern Gosdin Band two years later and then to J.D. Crowe & the New South, the Lonesome River Band, Longview and Rock County before striking out on his own.

Last year, Rigsby left his day job as director of Morehead State University’s Kentucky Center for Traditional Music, a post he had held for eight years, to devote more time to his music.

Hopefully that’ll mean more frequent albums.

Can’t find “The Voice of God” in stores? Try www.DonRigsby.com.

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